Prepare to pay

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Find out when your first payment is due

Knowing what to expect is an important step in preparing to repay your federal student loan(s).

We offer online tools and information to help you prepare to make that first payment. If you need additional help, contact Solutions at ECMC—our counselors are ready to assist you.

When is my first payment due?

Your first payment is due when your grace period ends, which for most federal student loans is six months after you graduate, withdraw, or drop below half-time enrollment.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Under the Master Promissory Note, it is your responsibility to know when and where to send your payments—do not wait to receive a payment notice or statement to make your payment. If you wait for your loan servicer(s) to contact you first, you may have already missed a payment.

To find out when your grace period ends and your first payment is due, contact your loan servicer(s). If you don't know who your loan servicer(s) is, visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), the central database of federal student loan information. You may have more than one loan servicer.

When does my grace period start?

If you have a loan(s) that is eligible for a grace period, any of the following situations will start your grace period.

  • Graduating from school
  • Withdrawing from or leaving school
  • Dropping below half-time enrollment

Your grace period begins the day after your separation date. Your school determines the exact date on which it considers you "separated." If you graduated, your separation date is usually graduation day.

Contact your loan servicer(s) to find out when your grace period began and when your first payment is due. Be sure to give your loan servicer(s) your current contact information so they can send you payment information.

Can I start making payments early?

One way to lower your loan balance is to make payments while you're still in school or during your grace period. This will also help to reduce your total costs to repay your loan(s)—the lower the balance on your loan(s), the less interest you will pay in the long run.

To see how much you can save by making payments early, use our Value of making interest payments calculator.

What if I go back to school?

If you go back to school at least half-time and your grace period has expired, you can request an In-School Deferment from your loan servicer(s). You won't have to make any federal student loan payments, although if you have an unsubsidized loan(s), interest will continue to be added to your loan balance.

If you go back to school at least half-time and your grace period has NOT expired, your grace period starts over. For example, if you have used five months of your grace period and you go back to school, you will get the full six-month grace period again the next time you leave school or drop below half-time status.

What if I don't earn enough to pay back my loans?

If you cannot afford the payment once it is due, you may work with your loan servicer(s) to try to find a solution that works for you. Federal student loans offer several options, such as deferments and forbearances, as well as flexible income-driven repayment options. Find out more in our repayment options section.

If you do not know who your loan servicer(s) is, go to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), the central database for federal student loan information. This website will provide you contact information for your loan servicer(s).

If you need additional assistance, contact Solutions at ECMC. We can help you get started.